Lawyers are Legal-Fortune Tellers
Varun P 3 Feb 2021

A good lawyer is also a good prognosticator. They try to imagine all of the problems and opportunities that may arise from a new deal. The lawyer will help the parties foresee issues that he or she thinks are likely to arise in the future. That way the parties can address the issues in advance. The lawyers include provisions in the agreement to implement the party’s intent. They predict events that may, or may not, ever come to pass. Even if it is a new type of deal, one that has never been done before, they try to predict the future of what is likely to happen. Contract lawyers become very good at predicting the many things that might go wrong and provide specific remedies for them. Many of the contractual provisions based on possible future events are fairly routine. For instance, what happens if a party does not make a payment? Others are creative and pertain to specific conduct in the agreement. Like what happens if any party loses any shared information? What disclosure obligations are triggered? What other curative actions? Who pays for it? I recall doing this when I helped create some contracts for a startup..)

Most transactional lawyers focus on the worst case scenario. They write contract provisions that try to protect their clients from major damages if bad things happen. Many become very good at that. Litigators like myself come to appreciate that soothsaying gift. When a deal goes sour, and a litigator is then brought in to try to resolve a dispute, the first thing we do is read the contract. If we find a contract provision that is right on point, our job is much easier.

Litigation Lawyers

In litigation the prediction of probable outcomes is a constant factor in all case analysis. Every litigator has to dabble in this kind of future prediction. The most basic prediction, of course, is will you win the case? What are the probabilities of prevailing? What will have to happen in order to win the case? How much can you win or lose? What is the probable damage range? What is the current settlement value of the case? If we prevail on this motion, how will that impact settlement value? What would be the best time for mediation? How will the judge rule on various issues? How will the opposing counsel respond to this approach? How will this witness hold up under the pressure of deposition?

All litigation necessarily involves near constant probability analysis. The best litigators in the world become very good at this kind of future projection. They can very accurately predict what is likely to happen in a case. Not only that, they can provide pretty good probability ranges for each major future event. It becomes a part of their everyday practice.

Clients rely on this analysis and come to expect their lawyers to be able to accurately predict what will happen in court. Trust develops as they see their lawyer’s predictions come true. Eventually clients become true believers in their legal oracles. Good lawyers quickly understand the limits of all predictions. A successful lawyer will never say that anything will certainly happen, well almost never. Instead the lawyer almost always speaks in terms of probabilities. For instance, they rarely say we cannot lose this motion, only that loss is highly unlikely. That way they are almost never wrong.

How Lawyers Predict The Future

Accurate prediction of future events by lawyers, or anyone for that matter, requires deep understanding of process, rules, and objective analysis. Deep intuitive insights into the people involved also helps. Experience assists too, but only in providing a deep understanding of process and rules, and knowledge of relevant facts in the past and present. Experience alone does not necessarily assist in analysis for the reasons discussed. Effective analysis has to be objective. It has to be uncoupled from personal perspectives and ego inflation.

The best lawyers understand all this, even if they may not be able to articulate it. That is how they are able to consistently and accurately calibrate case outcomes, including, when appropriate, probable losses. They do not take it personally. Accurate future vision requires not only knowledge, but also objectivity, humility, and freedom from ulterior motives. Since most lawyers lack these qualities, especially male lawyers, they end up simply engaging in wishful thinking.

Why You May Need A Lawyer?

Accident & Personal Injury Law

  • You are injured in an automobile, motorcycle or boat accident that was not your fault.
  • You are injured by a defective product.
  • You are injured by a physician who failed to do something he/she should have.

Administrative Law

  • You have been denied workers' compensation benefits for an injury at work.
  • You are being sued by the state for breaking some environmental regulations.
  • The State wants to take away your driving privileges.
  • You need a variance before the zoning board.

Bankruptcy & Debt Collection

  • You simply cannot pay your bills.
  • Your business is good now but you cannot get out from under previous debt.

Small Business Law

  • You want to start a new business.
  • You want to merge with or buy another business.
  • You want to sell your business.
  • You need help collecting from customers who have not paid you.
  • You are being sued by an employee.
  • You need help in drafting a contract.

Consumer Rights and Litigation

  • You have had problems with automobile sales and repair, consumer credit, contest scams, door to door sales, debt collection, disputes involving health and fitness clubs, investment scams, mail order sales, product warranties, telephone sales, travel nightmares and unordered merchandise.
  • You find yourself fighting to get the insurance company to pay a fair settlement whether it is automobile, business, disability, health or property insurance.

DWI & Criminal Law

  • You have been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
  • You were arrested for domestic violence.
  • You were arrested for drug possession.
  • You have been declared an "habitual offender."
  • You were wrongfully cited for speeding.
  • Your child has been charged with a juvenile matter.

Bankruptcy & Debt Collections

  • Someone owes you money.
  • You owe someone money.

Divorce & Family Law

  • You want to start divorce proceedings.
  • Your spouse has already started divorce proceedings.
  • You want to have a child support order modified.
  • You are planning to get married for a second time and need pre-marital contracts.

Wills & Trusts

  • You do not have a will and you have kids.
  • Your parents are elderly and do not have wills or advance directive documents and powers of attorney.
  • You would like a trust to protect your assets.


  • You are the executor of someone's will and they have died.
  • You would like to be appointed as guardian of a family member.

Real Estate Law

  • You are buying a home.
  • You are selling a home and perhaps want to take back a second mortgage.
  • You have some land and want to develop it.
  • You own an apartment and want a good lease.


We live in a society that thinks nothing of going to a doctor for checkups when nothing is wrong, having an occasional home inspection or even getting your car checked with every oil change. Yet, even having an ongoing relationship with an attorney is a sign of something being off.

I’m not saying you need to visit a lawyer every six months or even yearly, but you should establish a relationship with one as soon as you can and see about stopping by every time your situation changes. Routine stuff such as minor car accidents, contracts, wills, etc. are great, low-pressure opportunities to introduce yourself to a lawyer and find one you like.

So take the opportunity to seek one out. Most likely, you’ve been putting off some legally-oriented task for a while so make it a late New Year’s resolution to get it done and, along the way, establish a relationship with a legal professional that can help you a great deal down the road.

When you need your lawyer, you’ll be glad that you met them when you did.




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